Monday, April 07, 2008

Marriage--Happiness or Holiness?

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis
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I never planned to get married. I was happy as a single person. I was content in who I was. I was happily involved in ministries that I thought would be hindered by relationships. But God had other plans. And when he brought German into my life (you'll have to wait until next month's Marriage Monday to hear that story), I wasn't so sure that God understood my plans. After all, I was happy and content and leading a successful single's ministry. But God saw the bigger picture.

Within a few months of our getting married, I began to see the bigger picture as well. The only problem was, I was totally unhappy. Miserable in the circumstances would have been a better description. We were still head-over-heels in love, and totally amazed that God had seen fit to allow us to meet and get married. But the emotional reaction to the circumstances was anything but positive. God still held the bigger picture, and He knew in coming through the current trial we would not only be happy and content, but we would be a clearer example of unconditional love in a marriage. He was making us holy, but for a time it meant allowing us to be unhappy.

Four months after we got married, German was transferred at work from Spokane, Washington where our life together was to Birmingham, Alabama. The job was great. We were excited about the move. But when he left in March, I stayed behind to finish at work and sell the house before I could join him. The housing market fell apart at the same time. Finally in September we decided that we were miserable apart, and I would just move down. We arranged for someone to watch the house and the cat until the house sold. It took another four months before it sold. But we learned so much in those months.

We learned that we still had to depend on God, even though we were now married. With thousands of miles between us we could not depend on each other for day-to-day needs and we could not manage the other's emotional needs from a distance. We learned that when God says love unconditionally He means unconditionally. I don't think I would have easily given my heart to German if I had known he would leave me and move across the country---but God had already caused me to love him when it happened. In that same vein I learned to respect German's leading our family even if it seemed impossible. Through lots of mistakes, I finally got it that complaining about the "job" taking him away was an attack on him not the job. So, I learned to take those things to God.

Those lessons were painful. But they were important. They helped to set our marriage apart. They gave us a testimony of God's faithfulness in struggles. They taught us to totally appreciated the times that God brings the good and fun in our life--to be totally happy in each other's presence. More importantly, they taught us that even if we could not find that elusive happiness in the situation we could still find God's peace and joy in His presences. Finally they prepared us for a time when God would say "take the job" and it would lead German to move to England, and leave me in Birmingham. Only in that move we were able to not reside in the unhappy miserable mental state of before, because God had refined us in the early years.

God allows us to find happiness in our marriage. He delights when we are delighting in what He has given us. But as important as our emotional state, His first desire is to make us holy. And He uses our marriages to develop His holiness in our lives. That's how it should be--since our marriages reflect His relationship with the church.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:22-27

I'm so thankful He gives me a friend, partner and lover with whom I can share happy times. But I'm most grateful that He works in all of my marriage to make us holy. That is the ultimate desire of my heart.

Marriage Monday is a meme hosted by e-Mom at the first Monday of each month. It is an opportunity to explore different themes within the topic of marriage. Please visit some of the others writing on this subject of happiness or holiness. I know you will be blessed.


the160acrewoods said...

great thoughts on the subject!
God bless!


Linnet's Nest said...

Lovely thoughts and thank you for sharing your difficult experiences; it shows us how God refines us through the storms of life.


Lynn said...

And He uses our marriages to develop His holiness in our lives.... amen. Neat story. I can relate as my husband's job takes him away every week. Out on Monday home on Friday. this has been a good thing however, as you know I lean more on my Lord....

Robyn said...

I loved reading the testimony of the early years of your marriage!! I can't imagine living apart from my husband in those first few months of marriage. I can see how those years made your faith stronger. I'll look forward to reading the rest of the story next month!!

The Small Scribbler said...

Stuart and I have endured a couple of separations due to job changes. Your story is mine exactly. Well, except for the part about England. We were only separated by a few states...not an entire ocean. But the lessons learned were the same.


Tami Boesiger said...

You have me thinking of the song, "Trust and Obey". I'm thankful you stuck things out long enough to learn the lesson, trusting God's plan for you.

e-Mom said...

Your testimony is truly unique! I've not known many people who lived apart for any length of time.
He certainly used those periods for His glory and your maturation.
Bless you for sharing, and I look forward to reading about your courtship next month. :~D

Thank you for contributing to Marriage Monday this month, MiPa.